Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Saturday, December 05, 2009

A Motion Designed To Fail

No point for the Bridge Company to attend the Council hearing or anyone from Hillary Payne's group. Councillor Mom's Motion will not even get a seconder unless someone wants to avoid a riot. It is that ridculous and can never pass.

Did the Councillor write this on the back of an envelope while she was doodling at the last Council meeting. How much thought went into this:

  • "Moved by Councillor Postma, seconded by Councillor

    WHEREAS there are boarded up houses along Indian Road, Rosedale, Edison, Mill, Felix, Bloomfield, Donnelly, College Ave., Brock St., Peter St. and University W. and

    WHEREAS the properties are an extreme eyesore and a hazard to the neighbourhood, and the area is currently under a demolition freeze; and

    WHEREAS the residents and property owners have handed in a petition to demolish these homes with over 230 names on it;

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Mayor and Council agree to RESCIND Demolition Control By-law 20-2007 to permit demolition.

The issue is tearing down the Bridge Company homes not rescinding the By-law everywhere in the area even though it makes sense. A Councillor who may be sympathetic to the residents will not vote to rescind the By-law totally. Accordingly, it will fail in the end.

What is the point then? Was it all a set-up to sucker the Bridge Company to come in front of Council to embarrass them to save the political necks of certain members of Council? Was it designed so Edgar (aka Eddie) can look tough? What an incredible waste of time and effort.

So much for Councillor Mom's heart going out to the residents. So much for her trying to broker a deal. So much for her trying to help. The Motion is a joke. It is nothing more than a slap in the face to everyone who tried for months to work to get a resolution of the problem.

She should be ashamed. Her constituents ought to be furious. The Bridge Company, well, they should have expected it and probably did. No wonder Edgar had to make his childish outburst and deliver his toothless ultimatum.

Leaking: CUPE And The Ambassador Bridge

The leak known as the City Hall of Windsor is becoming scary. If someone within the City Administration wants to destroy a chance for a settlement of a problem: leak to the media. First CUPE and now the Ambassador Bridge. It is absolutely a leak pandemic.

And yet, so far the Police have not yet been called in to investigate. I wonder why not! Who is being protected and why?

That Hilary has become a Payne in the neck to Edgar. I hope that Edgar's chiropractor wife can work her charms given all of the pain that Edgar (aka Eddie) will be taking over the next few days.

What is this, Edgar negotiations CUPE-style with residents and the Bridge Company. Think I am on!

Another "bad faith" allegation, this time by the West End residents like the CUPE OLRB bad faith claim:
  • "Mayor Eddie Francis was “provocative” and acted in bad faith when he issued an ultimatum Thursday to the Ambassador Bridge company to advise council of its intentions for more than 100 homes acquired in Olde Sandwich Towne or face unspecified action by the city, according to a group representing residents in the area.

    By not simply giving the bridge company permission to tear down the vacant homes — which have become ugly, boarded-up eyesores — “the city is exposing itself to action for damages,” Ray Colautti, a lawyer retained by area residents, told reporters Friday. He said the group is “considering our legal options,” including a civil suit against the city for damages due to lowered property values."

Add that to the CUPE "bad faith" claim and the risk of paying $30M for backwages and punitive damages and there goes the 2010 City Budget. Does the City's insurance cover this type of action? Or will our premiums go up too?

It's a tough game for a mere citizen to dare challenge His Worship. First Hilary Payne gets smeared by the Messenger claiming:

  • "Watch video of Windsor’s former top bureaucrat, Hilary Payne, as he is escorted out of council chambers by security Monday night after hurling insults at politicians."

That was not true.

Now Edgar chimes in with his insult:

  • "Is Hilary Payne negotiating for the Ambassador Bridge now? Who speaks for the Ambassador Bridge and who speaks for the residents?” said Francis."

You know why that was said....Edgar had to lash out childishly at someone who challenged him. He cannot take it (and that is why he would not last one Question Period as a Senior Level Cabinet Minister if someone was so foolish as to offer him that role).

From the Hilary Payne Press release:

  • "In view of the Mayor's provocative, unwarranted and bad faith statements in the Windsor Star this morning I am instructed to withdraw our request for, Mr. Raymond G. Colautti acting for the residents...

    The Mayor's statements today are a further example of the bad faith the City has been exercising throughout this long controversy.

    The Canada Transit Corporation (CTC) has always been prepared, and are now prepared, to demolish all the buildings they have purchased and to grade and grass the area...

    CTC exercised its legal rights to appeal these by-laws to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). In 2007 and 2008 CTC applied for demolition permits for the houses in the area. Although the City issued demolition permits in 2007 and 2008 to others, they denied the CTC applications, refusing to issue them demolition permits.

    At the OMB prehearing held Tuesday December 1, 2009 CTC advised the City that it is committed to working cooperatively and requested a third party mediator, within the OMB process established at the prehearing, to sit down with the City, CTC and BUHDAG to resolve this situation...

    The Mayor's attempt to make the present degradation of the neighbourhood the fault of anybody but the City is simply a gross distortion of the truth."

What's this, someone NOT attacking the Bridge Company but blaming Edgar! How can that be?

Hold on a minute...the Bridge Company wanted mediation to resolve this, to work co-operatively. That makes sense. A civilized and adult way to resolve a dispute.

Darn, there was another leak according to Eh-Channel News and the Mayor's 4-page "ultimatum" was "inadvertantly sent" to the media. According to Hilary Payne, that ended any possibility of a mediated settlement.

Who in the Mayor's office is responsible and will that person be fired immedately?

Call me cynical but this is the CUPE leak all over again. Remember the June 17 leak after the City's position was reversed in two votes after Helga untied the negotiating Committee's hands. That leak, FROM THE CITY AS DETERMINED BY THE INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER BUT NEVER REPORTED BY THE STAR, scuttled negotiations for a month that might have ended the "political action" errrrr labour dispute.

Now another leak to the media FROM THE CITY has scuttled negotiations over resolving the "political action" errrr the housing dispute.

  • "Payne said the earlier decision came after a suggestion had been put forward to attempt mediation between the parties, an effort he claims was sabotaged by the mayor’s letter."

Just too many co-incidences for my liking.

Here is the scary part though and tells me a lot about our Mayor's character. Thank goodness the letter was brought out into the open. Presumably, it was never intended to see the light of day. No one was supposed to know about it.

Consider this, the Bridge Company upon receipt of Edgar's letter I am sure would have been outraged and reacted negatively. They would NOT have attended at Council and the Mayor and Councillors would have denounced them publicly.

Hmmm I wonder if the Councillors were not aware of the letter the way they were not aware of the contents of Edgar's Back-to-Work CUPE protocol. That caused another week of no CUPE strike resolution.

No one would be any the wiser as to why they did not come. They would have been demonized again. Nice way to carry on business with one if the City's major taxpayers isn't it. And remember that the letter was sent even though all the parties had agree to mediation!

Just like with the Back-to-Work protocaol, Edgar overreacted with his panic attack and issued it. He did the same with the 4-page Bridge Company ultimatum. He could not have a settlement with CUPE or with the homes torn down? Why not? Hmmmm, does the Province have a role in this?

It's really Edgar so out of touch:

  • "Francis said the city is acting to protect the neighbourhood from the bridge company’s attempts at “blockbusting.”

Yet he won't listen to what the residents in the neighbourhood want. Who is Edgar listening to? It sounds like they do not want his "protection." It's killing them.

I am so glad that Edgar still “invites them [the Bridge Company] to the table."

They would be out of their mind to accept this kind of an invitation from such an immature name-caller. Why should they trust him after his actions?

Seriously, will the Councillors ever do the right thing? They may have a pain in a different part of their anatomy come re-election time unless they start doing so now.

Friday, December 04, 2009

EH-Channel Exclusive: DRIC Bridge Delayed Again

Daryl Newcombe just did a news report on the 6 PM Eh-Channel news that said that the DRIC Bridge which was supposed to be finished in 2013, then 2015 will now not be completed until the end of 2016 and perhaps later.

Realistically now, can it ever be built? Or is the plot to force Matty Moroun out at a low-ball price, that DRIC has appeared to be, now brutally apparent! Has the Governments' bluff finally been called by reality!

It is likely that workers will now not be needed until mid-2011 according to Newcombe. Hardly good news for those who were hoping for an income soon. And more bad news for struggling businesses.

The obvious answer: build the Ambassador Bridge Company's Enhancement Project Bridge now before this region is completely devastated economically by the unthinking and uncaring bureaucrats and politicians!

It is now clear that no respectable investment grade traffic survey can demonstrate to Michigan legislators that traffic can grow to justify the building of the DRIC bridge in the foreseeable future.

It is also clear that there can be no P3 for the DRIC bridge because of the financial melt-down.

Michigan should kill the DRIC Project now! Why wait until June.

President Obama and the Michigan Governor should have talked at the recent State dinner about how to get Canada to stop being so stupid! If Michigan wants jobs and $2B in federal matching grants, the solution is the Governor's first priority, building the Enhancement Project, but for Canada!

MDOT should be ashamed! Seantor Cropsey was right all along.

One call from the President to our PM would end the absurd stalemate quickly.

Mail Call

More emails from readers:

1) Congratulations on your appointment! (Bottom right hand corner of the “front page” of the Star. BLOG 2009/11/15 The Windsor Star That Wasn't ).

It’s about time. ...

I saw it in “The Star” so it must be true!

2) Just a note to say thanks for all you do for residents of Windsor & Essex County Ed. If it weren't for our bloggers, regular people would never have a chance to know the extent that we are [not being given all of the facts] by our local paper.

I don't know how far this information gets out or even if people are interested in the specific issues you guys write about, but somehow, some way, our residents have to stop taking for granted that our news is living up to the responsibility of a newspaper. [By its actions], this paper is damaging our community, inciting residents to beat up each other instead of demanding accounting from our leadership. It is so wrong. Shame on the Windsor Star!

3) This is very interesting and unprecedented. Over 90% opposing the Chief
of Police in his apology to the Muslim community.

I heard that the Chief met with Edgar before issuing the apology. Who

Did Edgar force the Chief to do this?

The groundswell of discontent has become a tsunami. Edgar is a lame
duck! He cannot make a move. This development charge issue could be the
final nail in the coffin.

A perfect storm that makes Katrina look like a summer breeze.

Keep up the good work Ed.


5) More public sector union bashing. It would be a bad scene for Dalton and his Second Career initiative if college faculty were to strike.

On another note it was interesting last week when Sandra P was here to officially open the new building that the County Warden was here but his big city counterpart was nowhere to be seen.

6) Funny thing,
I sent this Letter to the Editor to the Star 3 weeks ago and they still haven't published it? I don't get it. Maybe you can make sense of it.

After having read the article, "What's in a name?" by Doug Schmidt (Oct. 20, 2009), regarding City Council's decision to pursue legal action against American company Zep IP Holding LLC for using the trademark "GreenLink" name to sell urinal pucks, rags and toiletpaper etc., I have decided to do an about face and put my full support behind the "GreenLink" brand.

Instead of flushing more of the 5 million plus Green-$-Link taxpayer dollars down the drain by suing the Georgia based company and further enriching a whole raft of lawyers, consultants, PR companies, pals and other cesspool flotsam, Council should partner with Zep IP and invest in a complete line of "Windsor City Council" products under the "GreenLink" banner.

Let's give the disenfranchised Windsor taxpayer a little something for his/her money! Think of the huge marketing potential, let alone the satisfaction of watching a commemorative "[Name of Council member] portrait engraved urinal puck" slowly dissolve over time then disappear altogether, just in time for the next election.

[Some funny lines deleted here since this is a G-rated BLOG after all ]

Well, you get the idea….the possibilities seem endless…

In fact, while were on a roll so to speak, why not kill two birds with one stone.

Let's put CUPE to work distributing these products throughout the city's vast network of public washrooms. The Citizens would finally feel empowered and CUPE would be vindicated -no need for the bad faith bargaining enquiry.

In addition, we would witness a mini economic boom as busloads of newly found GreenLink supporters would line up for miles at every public restroom throughout the city to show their appreciation for council's world class “GreenLink” product line. Being the enthusiastic optimist that I am, I know that I'll be at the front of the pack!

Just think…. this could lead to a country wide tour. City council could jump on one of the high priced, taxpayer funded GreenLink Transit Windsor buses and travel from city to city promoting the GreenLink brand. The Mayor and Council would finally get the world class recognition that they so deserve!"

7) [Copy of Letter to the Editor to the Star] I am very disappointed at your lack of coverage of the ward 4 meeting at the French club earlier in the week – there was some meaningful information that was discussed, and I heard about it from an on-line blog, instead of a reputable news source – what the hell is going on????

And 2 days later, still nothing has been reported by the Windsor Star.

What kind of newspaper do you call yourself when you can’t even report on a new event the measures up to – let see – a port-a-john on an Amherstburg sidewalk

Wow, and you wonder why I don’t subscribe to you

8) I'm pissed about Gary Smith!

9) Looks like Dwight just saved himself thousands a year in the new HST.
By not implementing it on the donuts and coffee, imagine how much he is personally saving.

Wouldn't this fall under conflict of interest?

10) Today I opened my morning paper only to learn that an Amherstburg resident planted a portable outhouse on his driveway to encourage the town to complete sewer repairs. That's news. As for Coun. Lewenza's ward meeting about something as serious as the CUPE strike, I find nothing. That event was not news, according to the editors. Little wonder people look to your blog. Shame on Windsor's pathetic excuse for a newspaper.

11) Not surprised by the Star.

Maybe our online newspaper should be called the Windsor Messenger.

12) I just read the slide show. I bet the Windsor Star won't even report on it OR they will twist it somehow and make Junior look like a farce. We'll see I guess.

All I know is this: If you work for the City of Windsor, like I do, you are made to feel ashamed by what transpired earlier this year. And if you are in a union, you are evil. It does not matter who was right or wrong, who won or who lost, everyone lost, there is no winner... I often do not tell people where I work, because, it is frowned upon. I hope one day I don't feel that way. I have many days ahead of me.

I realize there has always been the 'general hate for the civil servant/government', but it has grown tremendously, even I can tell that in my few short years here.

Thank you for your blog Ed, it is good to read some sense in this crazy town. It reminds me that not all people are closed minded and live by the spoon fed gospel that is the Windsor Star.

13) Great work on your blog today! With mini-Gord, I know its an opinion piece, but my god he should do atleast a little bit of research before he just states his views to be fact.

14) This may sound ironic coming from a unionized public employee who had to endure an eye openning summer. I'm all for fiscal responsibility of local government and being accountable to the rate payers. However, it's just maddening when you tally up the millions that have been wasted by this man and how he spins the truth, to get the lesser informed to back him up carte blanche. Cupe isn't the monster that the local biased media has made them out to be, just ordinary working people who have had the nerve to stand up.

Keep up the good work

15) Heh heh, caught one of my coworkers reading your post at work've corrupted us.. lol

16) So Gignac invited the Queen to Windsor.

With the other 8,499 invites that day, I'd really like to see the Queen's dayplanner.

What a way to thrill Windsor residents. She can't do anything else for thrills.

17) OMG Ed, your sarcasm is oozing. I wonder how long it will take for them to get this report to you (if it even exists). Keep at it.

You keep me chuckling with all the craziness going on in this City. I wonder if Edgar (aka Eddie) cringes when he sees your name on a email. He can delete them all he wants - none of us will soon forget his arrogance.

18) What we are dealing with is the “psychology of previous investment”. There are so many reputations on the line and so many dollars have been spent so far that for anyone involved to declare DRIC “dead” would be professional and/or political suicide. Every manipulation, augmentation and fairy tale telling will be deployed to maintain the fantasy that the DRIC bridge is necessary.

Use the “rule of 72” to figure out how long it would take for traffic to roughly double, that is, to get back in the range of the 1999 numbers at say 4% growth. 18 years.

The important numbers, for the WE Parkway, will be revealed next year when the groups vying to build it submit their proposals. $1.6 Billion isn’t going to cut it if they want it to look anything like the concept drawings. The number of structures, road alignment changes and water-course diversions among other engineering challenges will burn through the dollars very quickly IMO. Dalton told us last week when he was here that the Province makes no apologies for the financial position it’s in. Money had to be spent to keep services going, automotive jobs going and infrastructure projects started but, a $25 billion deficit and budget deficits likely for the next few years along with the recent down-grade of Ontario’s debt rating will make it more difficult to make the “road to nowhere” a reality.

Just a little fuel for the fire.

19) Communications are critical in today's world especially when it comes to the public relating to politicians. I just read that the Mayor still says he "will continue to fight" for the Greenlink proposal and probably spend more taxpayer money to boost his ego all for naught.

So what has this got to do with communications.... I suggest the citizens rent the Goodyear blimp and fly it over City Hall with the sign on the blimp flashing....


New WEDC Head Should Not Unpack Too Soon

Welcome to Ron Gaudet, the new WEDC head honcho.

If he can do for Windsor what he did for Moncton, then we will all be very pleased at his coming.

I am not being mean or harsh by what I said in the Subject-line. The WEDC front door is the fastest moving revolving door in the City considering how many heads it has seen over the last few years.

To be direct, I expect a clash very early on betwen our new so-called "Star" WEDC CEO, one of Canada's Top 40 under 40 and our, Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Mayor.

Where Edgar (aka) Eddie dreams THINK BIG visions with his mind's eye as his alternative to actually doing something, Mr. Gaudet has a different attitude:

  • "Atlantic Baptist University's growth in recent years has been no secret, but plans to expand to accommodate more students and programs have been kept quiet until now.

    The university's directors met this weekend to agree upon a $22-million to $24-million plan to add a student residence, an arena, and a new administration and education building that will address the campus' current capacity constraints.

    The university's vice-president for advancement, Ron Gaudet, said work could begin as soon as this summer.

    "This is all about growing to meet a demand as opposed to a field of dreams," said Gaudet."

Edgar may have to watch what he has said about some pet issues since Mr. Gaudet has been involved in many similar ones in Moncton in actually doing something not just pontificating

  • Helping a University grow dramatically with a new development

  • arenas in needed parts of the City

  • airport expansion and the need to access the US market thereby putting Ms. Nazzani at risk

  • transportation hub

  • "how to save a badly planned, dying downtown in a city once dominated by a single industry"

  • forming an economic link between former Maritime rivals that co-operation among communities is the best way to foster growth: "the corridor will unite the two cities, as well as all the communities in between them, into one economic region."

  • "share information and work together, instead of bidding against each other and buying jobs with incentives."

  • "a contaminated eyesore in the core of the city" will now become "one of the hallmarks of the region."

  • using call centres as a basis for prosperity.

I do have a concern about Mr. Gaudet. Windsor is NOT Moncton. We do not have NBTel. In fact, we did have Maxess as part of Enwin

  • "MaXess Networx, Inc. is a fibre-based telecommunication carrier. It provides broadband telecommunication service that delivers network bandwidth to business and public-sector organizations in Southwestern Ontario. The company also provides LAN extension, Internet access, private line, co-locate, and hosting services. MaXess Networx, Inc. serves commercial, industrial, municipal, health, and education sectors."

It could have been the core of a major communications system for us, our own Telco, but Enwin sold it off to Cogeco.

Mr. Gaudet built Moncton based on call centres. We have had problems with ours here and they have certainly not taken off as Edgar predicted. Moreover, there is much more competition than before from other cities and the slightest hint of union organizing could result in their end here quickly:

  • "What's changed since 1990 is that 43 call centres have been set up in Moncton. These large office complexes house 6,500 employees who spend their eight-hour shifts answering phone queries from across Canada and around the world. Call centres were the brain child of Moncton and provincial officials looking to save the city after the CN layoffs in 1990. The first thing they did was take stock of the city's assets. NBTel Inc., the provincial telephone utility, had already given Moncton a sophisticated telecommunications infrastructure. The city also had a largely bilingual workforce that was hungry for jobs. As well, the two area universities -- Mount Allison University and l'Universite de Moncton -- provided a supply of educated technicians, engineers and managers.

    Within three years, Purolator Courier Ltd., Federal Express Corp. and the Royal Bank of Canada had opened shop. This past February, Rogers Communications Inc. also announced plans to build a state-of-the-art facility in Moncton that will employ 700. The trick now, says Ron Gaudet, president and CEO of the Greater Moncton Economic Commission Inc., is to push development beyond call centres: "We don't ever want to be where we were with CN, where one sector so dominated that we were vulnerable."

What Mr. Gaudet will focus on in Windsor I do not know. I will suggest that transportation and our location may well be the key. Unlike our Mayor, he should not be afraid to phone Matty Moroun.

I wish him the best of luck. Because we need it badly. And so will he.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Brownfields Bonanza

In all modesty, my theories are often quite accurate as you shall read. It is merely putting the pieces together for my readers to know in advance and waiting for them to be publicized as they generally always are.

Wow, all of a sudden brownfields are the rage in Windsor. That will make a terrific re-election platform along with other mind's eye visions like a canal, a transportation hub and Greenlink.

I am not going to deal with the Zalev property yet but I am going to talk about another one.

In passing I did like how Edgar took it upon himself to jump a step and hire an outside Toronto lawyer to answer a Council question about the Zalev lands. Don't we have an Administration that does that or is this another Councillor Halberstadt "Your Arrogance has no bounds" moment coming up? When else has the Mayor hired a consultant to answer such a question.

Obviously, Edgar does not care what Council thinks just like with the canal. Who would argue against expropriating the Zalev lands? It is bad enough that Brister jumped the gun, for which he will pay dearly. And Edgar needed a good news story after the Kwame investigation story.

Both Councillor Brister and London's Mr. Farhi may have lucked out with this.

Remember this latest East End arena story on Eh-Channel at the end of October but not in the Star re arena parking, one of many:
  • "There's mounting pressure on Windsor councillors to take action after almost a year of frustration for Spitfires fans.

    Arguably a victim of its own success, the WFCU centre has been the target of criticism for insufficient parking.

    As municipal affairs specialist Daryl Newcombe showed on A News at Six, hockey fans are calling for more parking spaces."

According to the story, there are talks are "heating up" between the City and Mr. Farhi to buy some adjoining Lear land for parking but boy would it be expensive since it is our new downtown! I would have thought that he could get more for the land for office or residential use or for a hotel but a short-term lease for parking could be an option.

It was obvious from opening day that there was not enough parking so why wasn't something done. Here is why Councillor Brister is so lucky. It would have increased the cost of the arena so that he could not say it was built "on time and on budget." If there are extra millions now, well it is not his problem!

So what is the solution. Why it should be obvious especially because Edgar (aka Eddie) is front and centre on it:

  • "Toxic site seized by city could cost millions to clean up

    In taking over an industrial property that represented Windsor’s largest delinquent tax account, the city has also assumed an as-yet-unknown, but potentially very costly, cleanup of an urban toxic zone.

    The Star has learned a preliminary estimate pegs the reclamation cost at up to $6.1 million for the former WCA Canada Inc. property in East Windsor, seized Oct. 26 after accumulating more than $3 million in tax and interest penalty arrears.

    But local taxpayers could be on the hook for even more. A consultant’s report says more study is required, particularly to assess whether chromium, a known carcinogen, as well as other metals and toxic pollutants are leaching off the 11-acre property at 9082 Tecumseh Rd. E.

    “The concern to us was that doing nothing was not something we felt was advantageous,” said Mayor Eddie Francis."

Why wasn't "doing nothing" a smart idea? For this, the Mayor should not be faulted other than buying the arena property in the first place since the horrible contamination has been known for decades:

  • "The property, featuring a 165,000-square-foot factory building, lies southeast of the WFCU Centre...

    The city was advised as early as 1987 that chromium, used in WCA’s bumper plating process, was being detected in an adjacent storm sewer. More environmental warnings followed.

    “It’s got a fair level of contamination,” said city engineer Mario Sonego. “It’s next to the Little River and Hawkins Drain — is there a potential for leaking out? Absolutely,” he added.

    Francis said he’s “not worried” about Windsor eventually recovering the value of the lost municipal tax millions, as well as the anticipated multimillion-dollar cleanup bill.

    Located along a major commercial corridor — across Tecumseh Road from a Canadian Tire outlet — the property could fetch more than $5 million “in a robust real estate market,” the mayor said.

    He said the municipality would likely also be able to tap into senior government “brownfield” remediation funding."

Or Gord's mountain of cash. What a set-up! Now you know why Gord's column was written.

Imagine now if the WFCU site became contaminated or Mr. Farhi's valuable "new downtown" land and needed clean-up like his lands downtown. Imagine how he would sue. Lucky for him, now he has a defendant with deep pockets: the City of Windsor.

I think Edgar's math is a bit off: $3M in back taxes and $6M in cleanup costs does not equal $5 in a sale price in a "robust" market whenever that will happen.

But never fear, there is a better plan: a parking lot for the East End arena patrons.

It is a bit inconvenient but not that long a walk and it solves everyone's problems especially Mr. Farhi's since he won't have to clean up his property at his cost or have to sue us.

I did predict this 2 years ago by the way: BLOG December 13, 2007, "The Arena's New Parking Lot"

  • "But here's something else. We all know that the number of parking spaces for the East end arena is inadequate. You don't really think that people who go to Spitfire hockey games are going to be happy to take a Windsor Transit bus after the game to some off-site location to pick up their cars do you.

    Obviously then a solution is needed to find more parking spaces nearby. Let me suggest an alternative and help save the City a couple of hundred thousand dollars so that they can use that money for the crossing guards.

    Did you see this story in the Business Section of the Windsor Star as well:

    "City mulls testing at Wickes site

    Windsor city council is considering spending $200,000 for an environmental assessment of the contamination levels on the former Wickes Manufacturing property at 9082- 9152 Tecumseh Rd. E.

    The 8.89-acre property was recently listed as part of the city’s annual property tax sale valued at $2.66 million, but there were no bidders, largely because of the potential contaminants that remain in the soil.

    City deputy treasurer Janice Guthrie said the assessment will also help the city decide whether to assume ownership of the property.

    Under legislation, the city has two years to decide whether to assume ownership. If it does, it then has the option to use the property for municipal purposes or sell it on the open market.

    Wickes, which manufactured bumpers, vacated the site in 1990 and left behind chromium, copper and nickel deposits."

    Now isn't that plant near the location of the arena? The land may be contaminated and so no one is going to buy it. Why spend $200,000 when the City can turn it into a parking lot for the arena.

    Here is a news story back in 1987:

    "It has not been a good week for Wickes Manufacturing Co. Ltd., which owns Windsor Bumper.

    ..the company appears disheartened by a "high risk" label pinned on it last week after two years of trying to clean up its act.

    A report commissioned by the Environment Ministry released last Friday said Windsor Bumper posed more risk to human health than 112 other waste sites on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes between Amherstburg and Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

    The Ministry went on to say that

    "the risk posed by the ponds ended with their removal, and that the reaction to the study has been excessive, since it was almost 18 months old by the time it was released last Friday."

    Notwithstanding what the Ministry said, that quick search of my database ought to be enough to justify that the land may have serious problems. Now we can do a "signature" Brownfields redevelopment, have parking for the arena and keep the crossing guards working at least for the next six months by saving $200,000 on another consultant's report.

    So that may be why the Mayor and Councillor Brister are keeping their heads low. Save a million here, spend millions there."

Now you better agree with my theories on the border. They may be accurate too.

No Parking

Wow, someone was mighty confident that Windsor would outsource parking. Why incorporate a company otherwise for enforcement?

A reader sent me this column from Windsor Business magazine showing the incorporation of Windsor City Parking Enforcement Inc.

Perhaps someone could do a "pro bono" corporate search and let me know when the application for incorporation was first filed, who the directors are, the corporate address, the law firm invovled and so on.

Might make for some interesting reading.

More Windsor Tales

It just does not get any better than this: a coffee, a bagel and reading more stories about Windsor from the BLOGMEISTER.


Whew, Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG is now back online. Although he is not writing much these days.

But nothing from Councillor Postma since June!


Ahhhhh, no more being held at ransom by greedy Government workers for important Government services.

Thank goodness we will have private enterprise running them for us....WRONG

Ooooops, if you blinked, you may have missed this miniscule Star story:
  • "Driving examiners seeing latest offer

    Ontario's striking driving examiners are reviewing the latest offer from their employer aimed at ending a strike that began 11 weeks ago.

    A spokesman for the union representing the nearly 600 striking examiners said he would not discuss the offer while it was being considered by members.

    Employees at the province's 56 full-time and 38 part-time DriveTest locations, where would-be drivers take written and road tests in order to obtain their licences, have been without a collective agreement since March 1. They began their strike Aug. 24 to fight for higher wages, more sick days, less overtime and job security."


I am having trouble understanding why the Star brought up the story about the Farhi lands. Not just once, but twice recently. Something must be going on but what?

Here's a history of the property as reported. Try and see if you can figure it all out.

  • 11-07-2006
    Arena site 'perfect': Council swaps riverfront land for $1.5M and 40 acres off Lauzon Road

    With a week to go before the election, city council left its final mark Monday with the approval of a $47.9 million arena on 40 acres of land off Lauzon Road.

    The east-end site will be part of a $3.5-million land swap with London developer Shmuel Farhi, who owns the parcel of vacant land east of the Lear plant and sandwiched between Lauzon Road and Little River.

    In exchange, the city will give Farhi a 1.1-acre parcel it owns next to the Art Gallery of Windsor, overlooking Riverside Drive, which was appraised at roughly $2 million, plus $1.5 million in cash.

    Farhi has asked the city to hold on to the cash, which he intends to use as a credit for the future costs of developing the land. He will have a year to do that and if the credit is not used, the city will pay him in cash.

    Mayor Eddie Francis described Farhi as the man responsible for the revitalization of downtown London and the owner of about "70 per cent" of the land in that city's core. His plans for the Riverside Drive land will likely include condominiums, Francis said.

    "He's anxious about development. He's got a couple of ideas already in mind," Francis said. "He called up this afternoon indicating he's already looking at potential tenants."

Nothing here about a 3 year wait.

It seems the expectation was that something would happen within a year.

  • 11-08-2006
    Developer vows first class

    Windsor's newest investor describes himself as a businessman with a big heart and deep pockets.

    Shmuel Farhi, the man who played a central role in the city's ability to acquire a 40-acre parcel of land off Lauzon Road for its new arena complex, says the $3.5-million land swap will be the start of a long and fruitful relationship.

    Farhi gets 1.1 acres of prime waterfront land, west of the Art Gallery of Windsor, in exchange for 40 acres next to the Lear plant. He will also receive $1.5 million in cash, to be held by the city for up to one year for use in future developments.

    Farhi said he will use the year to line up potential buyers for a "first-class" condominium development overlooking Windsor's waterfront, with retail on the ground floor."

Again, talk was about a year with no mention of 3 years or not "owning" the property. It was a land "swap" after all.

  • 01-16-2007
    Costs mount for site swap

    The city will have to pay up to $200,000 to remove a foundation left behind from an old brewery on the Riverside Drive site that is part of a land swap for the new arena development.

    Mayor Eddie Francis said the old foundation was located on part of the site where the current Art Gallery of Windsor sits and next to an empty parcel of land the city will give to a London developer in exchange for land on the east end of the city for a new arena. "What happened was they just dumped dirt on top of it to close the hole."

    Francis said the city is obliged to hand over "a clean site" to Shmuel Farhi, the developer who will get the prime waterfront parcel, plus $1.5 million in cash, for land next to the Lear plant off Lauzon Road, where the city will build its new 6,500-seat arena.

    Francis said the estimated cost to remove the material is between $150,000 and $200,000. "Obviously the cost will be applied to the project budget."

Were the lost taxes added to the project budget too? Nothing here about the remedial costs being equal to the costs of the taxes.

It is interesting. Why was the city "obliged?" Why did the City have to bear the risk and not the Purchaser. Caveat Emptor did not apply in this case or was this poor negotiating again on the City's part?. Was the City aware of what was underground before the sale? If so, why didn't they clean it up as they will have to do now at Wickes site near where the East End arena is located?

  • 01-30-2007
    Developer gets 3 years to complete land swap

    London developer Schmuel Farhi will wait three years before he officially takes ownership of the city's Riverside Drive property that was part of a land swap deal for the new city arena, Mayor Eddie Francis said Monday.

    Farhi will have up to three years to take ownership of the property, which means the removal of the contaminated soil at the city's expense won't have to take place right away, Francis said.

    Farhi has agreed to reduce the city's cost in the transaction by $100,000. The deal involves swapping land -- the Riverside Drive property next to the Art Gallery of Windsor for a multi-acre parcel next to the Lear plant for the new arena -- plus $1.4 million to Farhi.

    The city will be required to remove the debris that's underground, which includes footings left behind from an old brewery, when Farhi is ready to develop the property. Francis said he's "absolutely" sure Farhi will eventually do something with the land. "Have you met Mr. Farhi?" he said, referring to Farhi's numerous property developments across Ontario."

I wonder how much more we have to pay to remove the contaminants now compared with 2007

What is really curious is a story in the Star in April 2007 written by Gord Henderson. Co-incidentally, as the Star reported in 2009, the deal for the downtown lands "did not close until April 2007:"

  • "$110-million campus envisioned for city core; U of W engineering building would attract 1,500 students downtown

    It's far from a done deal, but the University of Windsor and city hall are in advanced discussions with the province on a proposal that could result in a $110-million state-of-the-art engineering campus with more than 1,500 students being located downtown.

    Informed sources have confirmed that the university, which originally intended to build Phase 1 of its new engineering building on the northeast corner of Sunset and Wyandotte at a cost of $53 million, has instead presented a business case to the province to develop the entire facility on city-owned land south of the Art Gallery of Windsor.

    The sources say time is of the essence and a deal will come together in a matter of weeks or this unique opportunity will be lost forever."

My sources had told me previously as I had BLOGGED that the plans showed student housing at the east end of the project.

The Engineering complex idea was turned down by the University Board in January, 2008.

  • 10-26-2009
    Farhi property won't be taxed until 2010

    The city remains the owner of prime property at Riverside Drive West and Bruce Avenue more than three years after it struck an agreement to give the land to London investor Shmuel Farhi as part of the WFCU land deal, according to land registry documents.

    Farhi will not pay property tax on the 1.75-acre downtown site, valued at about $2 million, until at least April 2010 under an agreement with the city.

    He gained the rights to the property as part of a 2006 agreement that included the purchase of 40 acres on the city's east end from him for $4 million to make way for the $71-million WFCU Centre.

    The deal did not close until April 2007, giving Farhi three years from that date before he must take possession of the property and start paying $30,000 to $35,000 in annual taxes to the city.

    "Right now, no taxes are being paid on it because he doesn't own it," said Mark Nazar-ewich, legal counsel for the city.

    Old concrete foundations on the riverfront property are to be ripped up at the city's expense as part of the deal before Farhi takes possession.

    Farhi was also expected to bring forward development plans for the site...

    Farhi said he believes he is under no obligation to present anything to the city in terms of plans for the site. But if the agreement requires him to take over the property in April and start paying taxes, that's fine, he said.

    "Whatever the agreement calls for, that's what's going to happen."

    November 5, 2009

    Farhi property won't be taxed until 2010

    A London investor has been able to avoid paying taxes for three years on a prime piece of downtown property because of a "taxation delay" negotiated with the city as part of a land swap for the east end arena site.

    As part of the 2006 WFCU deal, Shmuel Farhi does not have to pay property taxes to the city until next spring on a 1.75-acre site he acquired from the city at Riverside Drive West and Bruce Avenue, just west of the art gallery.

    Mayor Eddie Francis said Monday the "taxation delay" was granted in exchange for the city not being required to immediately remediate the site at the time of the land exchange that led to Windsor's new arena on former Farhi land on the east side.

    City solicitor George Wilkki said the site of the former interim casino and a brewery before that harbours a "tremendous amount of concrete" from former foundations and footings. Farhi had no development plans for the site at the time, and the clean backfill alone, after remediation, would have cost city taxpayers about three years worth of taxes, Wilkki told council following a question from Coun. Alan Halberstadt.

    Francis said the city will remove those foundations at the time that future development occurs but that it made little sense to make such an investment before a plan is in place.

    Farhi is expected to take ownership of the land, valued at about $2 million, in the new year and begin paying municipal taxes.

    There is no word yet on what might be built there, although it is in the area of a proposed downtown canal project that council has not yet formally debated."

As Eh-Channel News told us, there is the obvious need for more parking there so guess who could sell the City more land in our "new downtown" area where we we were told by the Star recently that the area is booming. There goes the price of the land sky-rocketing upward!

  • "Parking Woes Growing Concern for WFCU goers

    Big need for more spaces at popular arena."

The cleanup costs years ago were said to be around $200K so how can Mr. Wilkki say that it "have cost city taxpayers about three years worth of taxes" when we are told the taxes are around $35K. In any event, the City did NOT get any taxes so we lost out on cleanup costs and taxes too

Edgar tells us that "Farhi had no development plans for the site at the time" yet that is not what the Star stories said "at the time."

He also says that

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said Monday the "taxation delay" was granted in exchange for the city not being required to immediately remediate the site at the time of the land exchange that led to Windsor's new arena on former Farhi land on the east side."

That makes no sense at all. We gave up tax money when we are going to have to clean up the site anyway. We lost out due to Eddie's poor negotiating!


Mayoral Know It All

It should be pretty clear by now what is wrong with our City: Mayor Edgar (aka Eddie) Francis.

His problem is simple. He thinks he knows everything and won't listen to his own professionals. Oh we saw that in its clearest form with the near riot and the almost immediate leaving of the CAO. Want another example. Take the problems on Pelissier and Edgar's mind's eye vision for the street:

  • "Closing Pelissier Street a safety risk: report

    Closing a portion of Windsor's downtown Pelissier Street permanently to traffic would jeopardize security, a new report says.

    Closing this stretch of Pelissier Street in downtown Windsor would jeopardize safety by decreasing what a new report calls 'natural surveillance.'

    Traffic provides "natural surveillance" by drivers and passengers, Barry Horrobin, the city's director of planning, said in his report, which he presented to the Windsor Police Services Board meeting Thursday night.

    Without that surveillance, vandalism, break-ins, drug transactions and other problems are more to likely to happen, Horrobin said.

    Pelissier Street is a major concern for Mayor Eddie Francis. After a deadly shooting there on Sept. 27, Francis proposed turning a stretch of the street near the corner of Wyandotte Street into a pedestrian mall to quell violence."

Thank goodness I saw this on CBC Windsor since the Star did not report it. Did that end the matter? Hardly:

  • "On Thursday night, Francis reiterated his support for closing the street, saying "it can be done."

    "It's just a matter of ensuring that the will's there," he said.

    Francis plans to meet with the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association and city planners to discuss a possible closure.

    Those groups agree that a seasonal or periodic temporary street closure might be beneficial, but oppose closing the street permanently."

So now we have to waste time and effort on something that makes no sense because that would mean otherwise that Edgar was wrong.

In other words, nothing will be done until the next crisis.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Nominate Mini-Gord For Stephen Leacock Prize

In case you do not know, the award is named after the great Canadian humourist and is "for the best book of humour." Just package a number of mini-Gord columns together and it is the medal winner for sure!

Take last Saturdays' column "Smear targets Francis." Please. I laughed so hard as I read the column that I almost had an accident, if you know what I mean.

Shhhh, don't tell anyone. Most people would think this is all award-winning political satire but we in Windsor know it is the truth. No one could make this stuff up.

Imagine a columnist getting all offended and talking about someone smearing the Mayor when he wrote a column casting a cloud of suspicion over the entire City Council when he talked about a corrupt Councillor and has still refused to reveal his or her identity. And his newspaper seems to be going along with it.

That makes a mockery of the concept of Freedom of the Press and the right of a reporter to protect a source.

And then, talk about smearing, the columnist says:
  • "Basse, a retired RCMP officer who himself exudes decency and honesty, refused to speculate on the identity or motives of the unseen puppet masters, but anybody can guess. The election cycle starts in a few weeks, on the heels of a nasty strike."
I cannot believe how he did it but there he goes after CUPE again. Kapow CUPE supporters on Council. You just got dinged!

And watch as he goes after a reporter colleague but putting it in the words of the Commish:
  • "Basse also accused the media of playing a major role in the attempt to smear Francis.

    "The media has blown this all up," he kept saying in an accusatory tone. "I don't understand how you could blow it up like this."

    Nobody disagreed."
Of course, no one diagreed with Basse. Some members of the media were probably laughing themselves silly at this whole foolish spectacle and could not speak. They are fortunate they did not have an accident too.

Here is something hilarious. It is the second time in recent months that mini-Gord has gone after this same reporter. Nothing like mini-Gord personally destroying his own paper's credibility.

And then he takes on his Editorial Board with this comment of Basse to really rub the salt into it:
  • "As Integrity Commissioner Earl Basse pointed out this week, a potentially blockbuster real estate deal by its nature has to be discussed behind closed doors."
Yet his Editors had said previously:
  • "Francis clearly didn't provide Marra, other councillors and, by extension, Windsor taxpayers, with all the information he might have. Even if the meeting wasn't confirmed until Tuesday, Francis could have divulged the fact he had spoken with Kilpatrick just days earlier and had tentative plans to meet with him in less than 48hours.

    The fact he didn't is puzzling but speaks to both Francis' tendency to err on the side of secrecy and the difficulties of negotiating a multi-million dollar public infrastructure deal in these uncertain times with Detroit...

    Still, the way Francis handled Marra's relevant query rankles given the fact these negotiations have been shrouded in far too much secrecy already. If there were reasons why Francis felt it best to keep certain facts from councillors and taxpayers, he should have elucidated them clearly rather than providing a vague response that omitted relevant details."

Those are real knee-slappers. Who is fighting whom now? I do not have the ability to write this kind of funny stuff.

Oh there is more. Consider for instance the Integrity Commish comment about the Edgar (aka Eddie)/Kwame investigation:

  • "In retrospect, I should have dismissed it," he retorted.

    Until the media "blew it all up" this week, he said, he had planned to answer the taxpayer question via "a small paragraph in my annual report."

So why then did the Commish feel the need to meet with Francis since it would serve no worthwhile purpose since the Mayor's conduct was exemplary? Why pretend that he was examining Edgar when they only met briefly? Why did he tell Bruce McLeod he viewed the complaint as serious? Why do anything, when he said:

  • "Basse described his brief investigation as "an inquiry, not an allegation. It is not a probe."

HUH, what the heck does that mean? It's all gibberish to me.

See what I mean about a farce. Who would believe it!

No one doubts "Basse, a retired RCMP officer who himself exudes decency and honesty" but consider this about a person who is in such a key position:

  • he does not seem to know what his authority is under the Municipal Act from reading his Leakor report
  • he has still not explained how he could undertake an investigation about Jones without a complaint
  • he has not explained how holding a press conference to release a report which no one has claimed they have seen yet meets the requirements of the Municipal Act, and
  • he has still not reported on another Mayor Francis complaint filed back in May.

And then he tells us what the Municipal Act says:

  • "Not only was Francis was fulfilling his duties properly when he met with Kilpatrick, Basse said, "he would have been in violation of the municipal Act" had he NOT met the Detroit mayor privately."

Errrr, Commish, which section is that?

Here is a real hoot:

  • "some accuse Basse of fuelling the media frenzy by delaying his report for 14 months. "In retrospect, I should have dismissed it," he retorted.

    Until the media "blew it all up" this week, he said, he had planned to answer the taxpayer question via "a small paragraph in my annual report.""

Let's see now, "in September, 2008, [Council] appointed Mr. Earl Basse as Integrity Commissioner for the City of Windsor."

According to Mr. McLeod, he handed in his complaint the day after Basse was appointed.

The Municipal Act states:

  • "Report to council

    223.6 (1) If the Commissioner provides a periodic report to the municipality on his or her activities, the Commissioner may summarize advice he or she has given but shall not disclose confidential information that could identify a person concerned."

Here is the joke. It is almost the end of November, 2009 and we have not yet seen a 2008 Annual report! It is overdue whether it should have been reported on a calendar basis or on a yearly basis from date of appointment.

But that is all small stuff humour. Talk about your dumb "Eddie Francis' political enemies." These people make the crooks in the "Home Alone" movies look like geniuses.

  • "Every resident in Windsor can rest assured that one day they will hear a far-flung friend or relative ask: "Hey, what's up with that mayor of yours? Isn't he being investigated or something?"

    Tell them the LBJ story -- and that 2010 is an election year. The smarter ones will understand right away what happened."

Heck, if the "Eddie Francis' political enemies" had any brains and wanted to smear the Mayor, they would not have filed a complaint back in 2008, which most people would have assumed would have been investigated and a report issued within a few months, they would have waited until near the election date and filed the complaint so that Edgar would be smeared RIGHT BEFORE the election with no hope of exoneration!

See what I mean about stupid.

Moreover, the "Eddie Francis' political enemies" missed their opportunity. Basse's Leakor report came out (although never reported by the Star) and said the leak came from the City. Why not leak about the Francis/Kwame investigation then? Why wait for a week and a half? Those enemies are fools. The finger would have been pointed at Edgar, not Jones.

Here is why the "Eddie Francis' political enemies" are the epitome of dumbness...they gave the story to the Star who had the chance to create a defence for the Mayor in the Kwame story rather than giving it to Daryl Newcombe of Eh-channel who broke the other leak stories. Sheeesh!

As for language, Shakespeare would have been proud: Mayor Eddie Francis' political enemies, smiling that creepy old Texan's smile, persons unknown, an unknown councillor or councillors, unseen puppet masters, slimed us. It just does not get better than this.

Oh, oh....I cannot write any more. I am laughing too hard...I have to run again....excuse me now!

The Star's Responsibility: Call In The Police (Part V)

I cannot understand the Windsor Star at all. I wanted to wait a bit to see if they would do the right thing and call in the authorities.

Why has mini-Gord not yet released the name of the corrupt Councillor? Why is he protecting a criminal who is in breach of trust? He is not protecting a source but is covering up for someone who knowingly and with malice breached his/her duty to Windsorites and will cost the City taxpayers millions in a bad faith claim.

You saw what the Star has done to poor Councillor Jones. As he said:
  • "It’s a shame I have to get a lawyer to prove myself innocent. I am innocent."

They don't stop either. They keep running that "June" picture of him in Council. Here is what was said Monday night before the Council meeting on "Councillor on Tap:"

  • "2) Councillors are expected to officially receive a report by the Integrity Commissioner into an information leak in the summer that was blamed for torpedoing talks in the CUPE strike. The commissioner's probe into that leak revealed that "hundreds" of calls had been made by Coun. Ron Jones to CUPE leader Jean Fox during the strike. That information, presented to councillors in an in-camera session last week, made its way to the media via another unauthorized leak."

I do not believe that to be a fair commentary since what was presented was the Basse report and not anything else.

I love as well that the Star has not yet said that Basse found that the leak came from the City, not CUPE, and that everything said trying to put the blame on CUPE was a vicious and misleading lie. Rather they keep reporting:

  • "Basse conducted more than 30 interviews and studied security videos, phone records and e-mails, but reported last Monday to Mayor Eddie Francis and council he was unable to determine the source."

They condemn Jones by his actions but do NOT condemn those who spoke to CUPE's Jim Wood considering they were not on the bargaining committee:

  • "Among those were the mayor and councillors on several occasions during informal conversations, as they strived to find a resolution to the strike."

What did the Mayor discuss? Why didn't the Star mention that on "Council on tap?"

By now, the Star editors must have asked mini-Gord who the potential Leakor was. What's the answer? If the Star has not asked, why not?

If the Star knows, where is Mr. Beneteau telling us who it is. What has he got to hide?

It is up to the police to start asking questions and to get the answers since our newspaper has failed us.

You decide if the Star deserves to continue to receive your subscription money. You know what decision I made. I cancelled mine and am glad I did.

Perhaps, on the other hand, there is another explantion. Perhaps......well I will let you figure out what that means. If true, then it is even more shameful!

Smearers Beware

People in this City of ours, Windsor, have a voice that they use on the Internet whether in a BLOG or in a Newsgroup or in a Forum.

Contrary though to what many believe, the ability to remain "anonymous" over the Internet is not as easy as one might think. There are tools that can be used to track people down who act inappropriately.

Now it's a Canadian Court who will allow a person who may have been slandered over the internet or by email to find out who did it.

It's complicated though but the legal system is learning how to deal with it.

This would make a great law student exam question:

Let's assume a Canadian resident who works or studies in the US sets up a Google BLOGGER website to smear a Canadian. If the Blogger writes in the US or Canada or both, which court should issue the order to Google to release the person's name? Does it matter if the website was started in the US or Canada?

Here is a report of a case from the Varsity newspaper where the circumstances were not as difficult. Just see what the Court did:
  • "York U wins court order to reveal authors of accusatory emails

    Google, Bell, and Rogers fork over customer identities and contacts

    Following court orders, Google Inc., along with telecommunications giants Rogers and Bell Canada, has handed over the IP addresses and customer information of several York faculty members who anonymously sent out emails accusing the university of academic fraud.

    The legal action took place after York President Mamdouth Shoukri announced Martin Singer as the first dean of the university’s newly formed Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies in January, calling him a “renowned scholar of Chinese history.” Several faculty members were quick to point out that this claim was fraudulent and that Singer’s academic record was spotty at best...

    Disgruntled faculty members formed the group and used a Gmail account to send the emails. After Noble refused demands from York to reveal the names of the others involved in the group, York won a court order forcing Google to list the IP addresses of those who accessed the account.

    Rogers Communications and Bell Canada were named as the Internet service providers of the identified IP addresses. In August, York then got a court order compelling the two companies to hand over customers’ contact information. Both Rogers and Bell complied without notable objection.

    “What they [York admin] are doing is, they’re establishing a precedent: going after people’s emails,” said Noble. “At York, people say, ‘I’m not going to use the York email because that’s being monitored, so they set up something else, like a Gmail or Hotmail or something like that. What this [legal action] means is that’s not good enough either because [York admin] are going to try and go after that too.”

In other words, smear at your own risk!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

UPDATE: Basse's Edgar Report

Here is what the Clerk's Office wrote me:

  • "In response to your inquiry I advise that I received an email from the Integrity Commissioner that his report will be going to Council in the next week."

The Municipal Act seems clear to me where the Report goes first and who is to release it:

  • 223.6 (2) If the Commissioner reports to the municipality or to a local board his or her opinion about whether a member of council or of the local board has contravened the applicable code of conduct, the Commissioner may disclose in the report such matters as in the Commissioner’s opinion are necessary for the purposes of the report. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 98.

    Publication of reports

    (3) The municipality and each local board shall ensure that reports received from the Commissioner by the municipality or by the board, as the case may be, are made available to the public."

I don't see anything about allowing a press conference just because of the so-called international media coverage about the Mayor before the Report is presented.

Humour me. I know I am overly suspicious but I hate "accurate but narrow" answers. Could a member of the media ask if someone from the Mayor's office called Basse and asked him to call the Mayor:

  • "Francis said Basse called him Wednesday night and asked to meet with him early Thursday after word of the commissioner's investigation was leaked.

    "I said I would," Francis said."

It reminded me of the joke I asked in a BLOG:

  • "Forget the light bulb joke.

    The latest Windsor/Detroit joke going around is:

    Question: How many negotiators does it take to set up a meeting between the Mayor of Detroit and the Mayor of Windsor?

Perhaps the reporter could ask too when the report was finished.

And don't forget about the Hooker Love Canal too so that the international media might get interested again. "The Kwame–Canal Link"

Isn't it a shame? It seems, as Chris says, it may be necessary to "politically manufacture" issues to get a timely response to a citizen inquiry in Windsor!

Will The CAW Sponsor DesRosiers' Book

Never mind if they agree with him or not, they ought to do so to help out automotive students in Canada!

Here is a note I received:

  • "----- Original Message -----
    From: Dennis DesRosiers

    Subject: We are good to Go!!!

    I sent out a feeler about a month ago regarding the idea of assembling my forty years of writing about the automotive sector into a hard cover book. The response was very positive and indeed I was humbled by many of the responses I received. After carefully looking at the economics we have indeed decided to publish a "Best of" Observations hard cover book. It will be approximately 250 pages in length which should provide plenty of opportunity to get the absolute best articles into the publication. It will be available in late November.

    I've attached an order form to this e-mail so that you can order your copy and I hope multiple copies for your organization. It would be nice if we could get our numbers nailed down in advance so I hope you will give this serious consideration.

    It has been said that "The future of the automotive industry is the six inches between our ears." I agree with this 110 percent and have established an 'Endowment for the Advancement of Automotive Studies' to provide scholarship(s) to University students taking automotive related courses. It will be based at my alma mater, The University of Windsor. It is my small way of encouraging the brightest minds in this country prepare themselves to work in this sector. I personally funded the initial endowment of $20,000 but also have decided that 100 percent of the profits from this book will go towards building the Endowment. So by purchasing a book(s) you will not only get a very insightful publications but will also be helping a student prepare for entry into our wonderful industry.

    Finally, we have five companies who have agreed to sponsor the project. Besides the normal exposure associated with a publication like this we are also donating a 100 copies of this book to University or College students currently enrolled in an automotive course in each sponsor's name. We have identified about 2,000 students across Canada so we also need additional sponsors. Contact me and I'll have someone contact you about what's involved. Wouldn't it be great if we could get a copy of this publication into the hands of every automotive related student across Canada.

Story Time

No, not bed-time stories but stories you may have not seen or had a chance to read:


Those poor firms that spent all that time, money and effort bidding on the DRIC Road. Why bother.

This story is just a precursor to the announcement we will hear soon postponing the DRIC road project until the economy recovers, or rather, until we hear that we are getting a "temporary" cheap solution and that E C Road will be upgraded.

We are going to be given a choice I am sure as part of the charade: choose between the Greenlink road and the Zalev land purchase and brownfield remediation. Naturally most of us will choose to clean up the Zalev propety so Edgar (aka Eddie) will be off the hook.

Moreover, don't forget, there are more seats to win in Ottawa than Windsor too if it comes down to money:
  • "So now the premier wants to talk transit?

    There's more than enough information to form an opinion, despite McGuinty's nervous weigh-in about costs

    What luck. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty finally turned his attention to Ottawa's transit plan last week, but it was on Day 1 of his new fiscal austerity diet and he determined that the rail project is a little high cal. The opinion that $700 million over a decade for transit in Ottawa could be unaffordable comes only days after McGuinty committed $1.5 billion over five years for full-day kindergarten. As the premier said earlier in the week, he has to determine priorities. It looks as if transit in Ottawa might not be one.

    The premier is confident that the province and the city will be able to find an affordable alternative...

    McGuinty's note of caution on cost might well be a reaction to the fact that some of our city councillors believe that Ottawa's transit project should have two-thirds of its cost covered by the province...

    It's difficult to determine what the word "affordable" really means at the provincial level. The province has a large operating deficit now...

    The affordability issue isn't limited to the provincial government. Federal Infrastructure Minister John Baird continues to lay in the weeds and make supportive noises about the light-rail project, but he's never suggested that the federal government could round up more than $600 million and even that will be a stretch. The government is limited by the amount of money it has committed to a major infrastructure program...

    Some think that the federal and provincial governments are not jumping up and down with enthusiasm over the Ottawa transit project because of animosity toward Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien. While it's true that the mayor and the key federal and provincial players aren't pals, they all share an interest in a happy ending on transit that will overcome any personal feelings."


  • "For a second year, Steeles Avenue, which borders the north end of the city, tops the list of the 20 worst roads released by the Canadian Automobile Association and the Ontario Road Builders' Association.

    Toronto has four more roads in the Top 10 alone, a group that includes Ritson Road in Oshawa in second spot and Burlington Street in Hamilton in third.

    Roads in Belleville, Ottawa and Sudbury round out the Top 10, while Kingston, London, St. Thomas and Welland roadways are named in the Top 20."


What were 2 Senior people from the Star, a senior City Hall person and a Senior University Official discussing at Vito's Pizzeria awhile back?

Frat parties, serving booze at University functions, re-location of School programs downtown again, student housing, canals or City politics including the next mayoral race?


I thought this was interesting:

  • "MP MacKay to marry CTV news executive

    Defence Minister Peter MacKay... asked Jana Juginovic, director of programming at CTV News Channel, for her hand while they were in Boston, where she is on a one-year fellowship. She said yes immediately, according to sources...

    Liberals quietly complained about the perception of a bias in having a senior CTV executive being romantically involved with a senior Conservative cabinet minister.

    The network insists it had taken steps to ensure Juginovic is not involved in coverage of MacKay."

That is hardly a resolution that would make me feel too comfortable. It seems that she is free to be involved in the coverage of the PM, other Conservative MPs and Cabinet Members.

I wonder if they used the Windsor precedent.


Heck, you do something stupid, like cause a near riot for instance and do you get blamed? Not a chance. Do you have to apologize? Hardly:

  • "Pursuing the labour board complaint at this stage would only serve to "continue to expose wounds of a very bitter and divisive strike," said Francis.

    "All I can say is we've moved on and the community has moved on ... if CUPE doesn't want to move on, that's their prerogative."

Wow, everyone is listening to Councillor Valentinis' approach to ignoring problems and pretending they never happened:

  • "A pending inquiry threatens to damage the legacy of Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion

    The public has for decades cheered the Mayor who brought them a local miracle: kept their city debt-free even as it grew into the sixth-largest in Canada. Now it looks like Ms. McCallion’s run could end in recriminations, bitterness and a wide-ranging, costly inquiry that will drag skeletons from the closet and expose the deals done over the years. Many people just do not want to know, and especially, do not want to pay.

    “No murder’s taken place,” resident Mike Douglas said. “Most constituents simply want this done, over. Let’s get past it. ... We’re trying to go forward and we’re digging up imaginary dirt from the past.”

I guess they did not move on there:

  • "An Ontario Superior Court judge who dismissed corruption charges against Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien will preside over a judicial inquiry into a controversial, $14.4 million land deal involving the son of Mayor Hazel McCallion.

    The selection of Justice John Douglas Cunningham means the investigative phase of the inquiry – into the mayor's presence in meetings about her son's land deal and broadly related issues – could begin as early as next week."

Neither should we!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gord And The FCM Green Municipal Fund

Oh Gord, you sort of got it wrong in your column about the FCM Fund, "Brownfield fund has a 'mountain of cash.'" That mountain for our purposes is about as substantial as Mount Francis.

Sure they had hundreds of millions at one time and still have a lot today, but FCM reported in October, 2009:
  • "To date, FCM has committed more than $400 million to support over 730 sustainable studies and projects."

A large hill of cash remains perhaps. However, it is an insult for Gord to suggest:

  • "A surfeit of riches. Bequeathed $550 million by the feds early this decade to subsidize worthy environmental projects through grants and low-cost loans, it sees the fund (which includes $150 million specifically earmarked for cleaning up contaminated former industrial sites) earning interest faster than it can write cheques."
Actually the rate of return on unallocated funds in 2008-9 was only 4.69% as Gord forgot to tell us, an amount less than the annual rate of return since inception.

While FCM may want to give away $55M annually, to even hint that the vast majority of that money could come to Windsor is grossly wrong:
  • "In 2008–2009, GMF offered grants and loans to support 72 leading initiatives to make communities across Canada more sustainable. FCM approved over $3.8 million in GMF funding for 38 sustainable community plans, feasibility studies and field tests. Almost $52 million in below-market loans and over $8 million in grants was approved to implement 34 leading capital projects."

The Fund really does not help us much as I will explain. Gord did not tell us everything I am afraid.


When you want to look at amateur negotiators, then you need look no further than Mayor Francis and Councillor Brister. Talk about Loose Lips to try to earn political points. A smart politician/negotiator would have said nothing publicly until the deal was done.

Not our Council members. They need to be re-elected and there are lots of voters in South Windsor.

Sure open up your mouths and let the American owner of the Zalev lands know that the City wants to buy them out or expropriate them and if the City buys the property, then the City is on the hook for millions in cleanup costs. What a dream come true. For the owner!

What could have been done as an alternative?

One approach could have been to have the Mayor's colleague Max Zalev go and meet the owner. Perhaps the owner would be afraid that Max wanted back in the business to compete against him and would have sold out. After all, didn't we have the theatre with Max and Eddie who suggested Max ought not to be on the Audit Committee any longer.

Max probably could have bought it cheaply with a low purchase price and an indemnity for the cleanup costs,. Then he could have immediately transferred the lands to the City.

All done, no fuss, no muss, no bother, no big expense.


Now---well the owner must just be waiting for Edgar (aka Eddie) to pay him a visit so he can ask for $100M or more. That is the amount that Edgar told me that the owners wanted when he first was running for mayor and after he had a conversation with them as he told me at the time.

Gord, Gord, Gord, you ought to know from the FCM website that the FCM fund does not help pay for the purchase price! Windsor has to come up with the cash. If we do not have enough money for PRBs and want to build a transportation hub and a canal, where is the money for the Zalev lands coming from?


It might have come from Edgar's buddies, the Senior Levels, but they have their own financial problems with huge deficits these days.

Here Gord is what the FCM Fund is all about. And do not forget, the fund is for across Canada too so it is hardly likely that we will get multimillions. In fact, go here, to their database and see how little is paid out per project :

  • FCM's Green Municipal Fund (GMF) offers below-market loans, usually in combination with grants, to implement capital projects.

    GMF can provide financing for up to 80 per cent of costs to a maximum of $4 million in loans combined with $400,000 in grants. Brownfield projects are eligible for below-market loans only, with no funding limit.

    For municipal governments, GMF offers interest rates 1.5 per cent lower than the Government of Canada bond rate for the equivalent term.

Funding focus: brownfield remediation

  • FCM’s Green Municipal Fund (GMF) offers below-market loans for brownfield remediation projects.

    Available funding

    Rates for municipalities are 1.5 per cent lower than the Government of Canada bond rate and even further below market rates.

    Loans are offered for up to 50 per cent of eligible costs, for terms of up to 10 years.

    If your project is exceptional and includes a sustainable redevelopment plan, you may qualify for a loan at an even lower rate, for up to 80 per cent of eligible costs and a term of up to 20 years.

    Applications are considered as they are received. Each application is evaluated on its own merits. Not all proposals will be funded.

    The funding focus for this sector will remain the same until at least
    March 31, 2010.

    What projects are eligible?

    The remediation components of municipal brownfield redevelopment projects are eligible for funding, including removal and disposal of contaminated soils or materials, in-situ or ex-situ treatment of contaminated soils, groundwater or materials, the construction or installation of engineering controls and monitoring systems, and building demolition or deconstruction.


    The following activities must be complete before submitting an application:

    Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments of the project site

    A remedial action plan or risk management plan
    If these pre-requisites have not yet been completed, are not eligible for funding.


I found nothing in the FCM Fund database for major expenditures for Hamilton or Brantford as Gord related.

With respect to Brantford, I saw this:

A comment about Hamilton:

  • "The city has purchased a north-end brownfield where it hopes to build the Pan Am Games stadium...

    A source told The Spectator the land cost less than $1 million, but the city will face $6 million in environmental cleanup costs...

    City council voted to devote $60 million to a Pan Am Games stadium and velodrome. That sum includes $10 million for land acquisition.

    However, the city will have to buy more land if the bid is successful because the Rheem site is only about a third of the land needed for the stadium and a velodrome."

I just don't think it is as easy as Gord is letting us believe considering those cities have spent years working on their projects. But then again, I also don't have mind's eye visions to try to help me get re-elected.